Today marks 10 years since I published my first blogpost. I would link to it but reading through some of my old posts all I can think was wow was I obnoxious 10 years ago. I suppose that’s the case when you are fresh out of university and haven’t really experienced life but like to think you have.
I also used to swear a lot.
I’ve learned not to do that these days.
What else I have learned in the last decade of sharing parts of my life online?
1. Blogging is about connection
The reason I started blogging was to share my life in Korea with friends and family back in New Zealand. I initially published my letters home on geocities (RIP) before I found blogger did the job better. Since then I’ve published 4 separate blogs over the last decade each documenting a specific period in my life and also maintained two classroom blogs. Each of these blogs bought with it a community of support and advice for both myself and my students. Over the years I’ve met some incredible people through blogging yet only a handful I’ve ever met face to face.
2. Blogging isn’t dead – but it has changed since the good old days
Over the last 10 years I’ve written about the ups and downs of living in a foreign country, then trying to make sense of being ‘back home’ after a few years away. I’ve blogged about falling in love, break ups, death, politics, feminism, travel, being a stepparent and dessert . This particular blog has been by far the most successful in terms of readership but it is also the most specific in terms of content. Since twitter started to take off in 2010 I’ve found there’s considerably less interaction in the comments section and I’m less likely to react to posts from other bloggers these days. I’m amazed how much traffic my old posts generate. My old RSS brain still thinks new content = most important. That simply isn’t the case anymore.
3. Blogging is rewarding
Every time someone comments, shares a post or takes the time to contact me via email I get a warm fuzzy from knowing that what I write does make a difference. I certainly don’t suffer from any delusions that anything I’ve written has changed the world in any significant way. Nevertheless it’s pretty cool knowing that people have used something I’ve created as a resource to inform their own learning.
4. Blogging is learning
So much of what I do in the classroom has the been the result of reading about what other teachers are doing in their classrooms. But it is the process of sharing with others which really helps me learn. When I write a ranty post I will often spend several hours reading conflicting opinions, checking facts and finding research to back up my arguments before I hit publish. I find the process of writing a post helps me formulate my thoughts beyond an initial emotional reaction into something more cohesive. More importantly because I’ve taken the time to write down my ideas, I can refer back to them and use them a springboard to further develop my thinking.
5. Blogging brings support
Over the last 10 years I’ve had my shares of highs and lows both professionally and personally. When I’ve experienced success there’s been a squad of people cheering me on. When I’ve been in the depths of despair I’ve found some amazing words of wisdom from my wise readers reminding me that this too shall pass. Blogging both from a professional and personal perspective has been a way for me to manage my emotions. Though I share far less of myself online than I have in the past, it’s good to know there’s a cheer squad around when I need it.
6. Being open to sharing can make you incredibly vulnerable
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that for all the incredible support I’ve found online in the last 10 years, there were small group of people who sneered at my audacity to put my thoughts out into the world. Brutal name calling and outright intimidation have in the past caused me to stop posting. While the edusphere is largely free of bullying, I’ve learned that if you are willing to take a stand on an issue online you have to be willing to have others disagree you and they won’t always play nice.
7. Being controversial is easy, being thoughtful is harder
Ranty posts are fun to write and can quickly generate page views. However the attention you gain from those posts is often fleeting and can damage existing relationships. Building up a community through thoughtful and intelligent writing is a lot harder than ranting however connections made through quality and authentic writing will last longer and compound over time.
8. The internet works in mysterious ways
After 10 years of blogging I can’t reliably predict what other people will find interesting. Posts I’ve spent hours researching and thinking about can go unnoticed yet my post on being someone’s worst teacher, which I didn’t think was amazing, ended up with 1,100 page views in 24 hours. Where in the past I might have written about what I think other people might find interesting, these days I tend to write primarily about what I care about and hope others come along for the ride.
9. Blogging can lead to incredible opportunities
An effective personal learning network and a willingness to share has enabled me to enjoy some incredible learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom in the last few years. When I look back, even getting that first job offer in a market saturated with teaching graduates was directly attributable to an online professional presence.
10. Bloggers are amazingly generous
I owe such a huge debt of gratitude to the millions of people who share their stories online. No matter the subject: teaching, travelling, step parenting and baking, the blogging community has been a source of inspiration, advice and friendship these last 10 years. I know my life has been forever changed for the better by those who share their expertise online.
Let us celebrate 10 years of my online ranting with a slice of virtual cake.